A modified radical mastectomy is a type of mastectomy that combines the removal of all breast tissue from the affected breast with lymph node removal from the armpit on the affected side of the body. This surgery typically includes the removal of both the nipple and areola, but the surgery can be performed using skin and nipple sparing techniques.
Like a simple mastectomy, the procedure is performed using an elliptical incision 6 to 8 inches in length that begins on the inside of the breast, near the breast bone, and extends upward and outward toward the armpit. The incision can also be altered to remove scar tissue from previous procedures, which can improve the cosmetic outcome if reconstruction is desired.
Once the breast tissue is removed, the incision is closed with either absorbable sutures or staples that are removed during an office visit 10 to 14 days after surgery. There may also be drains in place to decrease the amount of swelling in the area. These drains are covered with bandages to protect the incision site and the drain placement. The drains are typically removed after discharge from the hospital by the surgeon during a routine office visit after surgery.